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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Class ring back to owner after 1.5 years in sewer

    When Melba Jaramillo lost her UA class ring down the kitchen sink at her Tucson home, she never expected to see it again.

    Her father, a plumber, said it probably hadn’t gone far and instructed her not to run any water down the drain until he could try to retrieve it, she said.

    She forgot, and the ring slipped further down the drain.

    “”I was upset and I was depressed just because it was actually a gift,”” she said. “”My parents bought it for me when I graduated.””

    On Aug. 23 – a year and a half after it slipped away into the sewer – the ring was delivered back to its owner.

    Now a second-year graduate student in cancer biology, Jaramillo was in class when her mentor, Dr. Margaret Briehl, entered, interrupted

    I see this man with Dr. Briehl and with my other mentor, Dr. Tome, and they were all standing together and he tells me that he’s from Pima County WasteWater and that he has my ring.
    – Melba Jaramillo,
    cancer biology graduate student

    the instructor and told her that she had important news to deliver, Jaramillo said.

    “”I see this man with Dr. Briehl and with my other mentor, Dr. Tome, and they were all standing together and he tells me that he’s from Pima County WasteWater and that he has my ring,”” she said.

    She said she was so overjoyed that her class heard her celebrating in the hallway.

    Robert Layden, a Pima County utility worker, had discovered the ring after cleaning sewer lines in the vicinity of the UA campus with a vacuum truck. Layden said when he emptied the truck at the Ina Road treatment facility later that day, he found Jaramillo’s ring amongst the sludge.

    Jaramillo said the ring holds special significance because she is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She graduated from the UA in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in molecular and cellular biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish linguistics.

    Scratched and a little bent, the ring still bears a red ruby, an image of Old Main and an inscription of Jaramillo’s name on the inside. The inscription, Layden said, is what enabled him to return the ring to her.

    Ordinarily, he added, jewelry and other valuables never find their way back to their owners because there is no way of contacting them.

    Jaramillo was lucky, not only because her ring was inscribed, but because it was found in the comparatively small amount of material that was vacuumed up, Layden said.

    Layden spent several weeks tracking Jaramillo down, trying the phonebook and finally succeeding after contacting the University of Arizona Police Department and filling out paperwork to obtain the necessary contact information, he said.

    “”I thought it was important to give it back,”” he said. “”I think most of the guys would have done the same thing.””

    Coworker Ed Frasquillo said, “”He has a good heart. He wanted to get this thing back.””

    For Layden, returning the ring was a privilege. Speaking of how he felt when he saw Jaramillo’s reaction, he said, “”It was something you only experience a few times in your life.””

    Jaramillo said she had been enduring a tough first week of the fall semester, including difficulties in her research, when Layden’s kindness gave her a new sense of perspective.

    “”Why am I so worried about those kinds of things if there’s good in this world?”” she said.

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